Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A New Year's Reunion

A New Year's Reunion

Yu Li-Qiong
Illustrator:  Zhu Cheng-Liang 
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 7
Candlewick Press, 2011   ISBN: 978-0763658816

Chinese New year is a wonderful celebration for children all over China, but for one Maomao it is an extra special time of year because her father, who “builds houses in faraway places,” comes home.

   One cold morning Maomao and her mother wake up early because Papa is arriving that day. Soon enough he has his big arms around Maomao. Maomao is a little alarmed because Papa has a prickly beard on his face and he seems different, but after he visits the barber, the little girl feels better. Papa is starting to look “the way he used to be.” Back at home Maomao and her family make sticky balls to eat and Papa hides a coin inside one of them. They hear fireworks going off outside as they fall asleep.

   In the morning Maomao is the one who finds the coin inside one of her sticky balls. How excited the little girl is that she is the one who got the “fortune coin.” She is so excited that she shows her friend the coin when the family goes out visiting.

   Day after day unfolds with new and exciting things to do with Papa, Mama, and with Maomao’s friends. There is a dragon dance to watch and snow to play in. Then, on the third day of New Years, when Maomao goes home after playing in the snow, she discovers something terrible; she has lost her fortune coin.

   In this sweet and heartwarming picture book, the author and illustrator combine their talents to share Chinese New Year traditions with their readers and to tell the story of a little girl whose New Year celebration is a particularly special time of year. The joy and excitement that the little girl feels comes through clearly in the narrative, and readers will feel warmed by the love that is strong in Maomao’s family.